Social Commentary


When the issue of having gays and lesbians *eligible to adopt children crops up one frequently finds people saying: “what about the child’s right to have a mother and father”?

This question is erroneous by nature.

First of all, there is no such right. Unfortunately, for various inevitable reasons such as parents who are deceased, imprisoned or not fit to raise their own children, some children are going to be deprived of living in a traditional family.

None of these is the fault of the state or some public institution thus, unlike when real human rights (such as freedom of speech, or arbitrary arrest) are breached, an orphan or a child that for some reason cannot live with his biological parent, could not seek compensation.

Secondly, it is these kind of children that get adopted. If LGBT people become eligible to adopt, no one is going to snatch children from happily married heterosexual couples to give them to homosexual couple to bring up.

All things being equal, if I had to be born again, I would like to be brought up by a heterosexual couple. The reason for this is that stigma on homosexuality still exists in much of the world and this is likely to have some effect on me (such as bullying at school).

But if my choice was between being brought up in say, an orphanage, without the individual attention a child desperately needs, or by a loving same-sex couple I would choose the second without a moment hesitation.

In a nutshell a child adopted by a homosexual couple is not going to be deprived from living with a mother and father any more than he already is.

*Contrary to popular belief, adoption is not a right. The prospective adoptive parents are assessed (thoroughly, one must say) and if it is deemed in the best interest of the child, they will be allowed to adopt. At present, homosexual couples are not eligible to adopt. In other words, for some children living in an orphanage, there are homosexual couple that have the potential of giving them a better life, that can’t even file the application.

Dear Pete

This blogpost is an answer to a comment by a certain “pete” on another blogpost of mine https://robertcallus.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/beautiful-memories-anda-bitter-reality/ that couldn’t remain unanswered.

This is the comment:

 “I am an African, who have been to most part of the world, I arrived Malta in 2010 for a 2yr master’s programme. I personally chose Malta against England because most of my family and friends were studying in England, and i wanted something different, and when i saw that Malta was an English speaking country, and a strong Catholic society, i decided to come to Malta to study.

If you know about the Maltese educational system, you will know that foreign students pay a very high amount for studying in that university, for my master’s programme..i payed like 15,000 euros, not including my feeding and accommodation for that 2yrs. But during that 2yrs of my study in Malta, it was the worst time of my life. I witnessed all sorts of racist behaviors in the bus, on the street in the club, every were. One of such incident that got me mad, and tired of Malta, was one evening when my friend, also a black, who just graduated from IMLI ( International marine time institute), and we decide to celebrate in paceville. In one of the clubs (Bar Native), after checking our documents by the first security guard at the door, who happen to be a non-Maltese, to make sure we are not “illegal”, he allowed us in and at the next door we meet another security guard who happens to be a Maltese, without any reason or asking for identification asked us to go back, after we have been asked by the other security guard to go in, and when my friend tried to ask why we were been sent back after security check at the entrance, he said because you are not wanted here…and when my friend tried to ask why, he pushed him so hard that he lost balance i fail to the ground. In order to avoid any further problem i stepped in and held my friend, who was still recovering from the push. My friend being a lawyer, deiced that he wanted to take the case up, i tried discouraging him because i have heard of lot of stories regarding black people in Malta, even how some were killed without justice, but he insisted that he wanted to speak to the authority. So we went to meet some police standing close to McDonald in Pc, after explaining to them, they were very reluctant to take any action, and one of them finally said that “if some body does not want you in his house do you have to force your self inside”, and that was when i and my friend new that Malta is not a place for “black” people.

I have a lot of bad experiences in Malta,even on arrive from abroad, at the airport, i was subjected to unnecessary security search, all because i was black.

Don’t get me wrong, there is racism everywhere, but the difference between countries like Germany and Malta, is that the law is no respecter of nobody in the former, while in the later, the racism is more pronounce among the people who are suppose to protect the victims of such acts.
But thank God, today, all those bad experience are behind me now, and they did not stop me from achieving my goals of coming to that country, although i almost quieted, but finally i graduated as one of the best in my master’s programme and i have moved on with my life, but will never advice my enemy to visit Malta for anything.”

Dear Pete,

I refuse to believe that the Maltese (or most of them) are racist. Sure we have our racists and in certain areas they are more represented than in others. One of these areas is online, another is in the profession of bouncers (I hate to generalize and I’m sure there are non-racist bouncers but that does seem an area where racists are hugely represented. I also noticed that quite a few of the online racists happen to be bouncers, some of whom flaunt their own racist violence in public)

Obviously this doesn’t mean racists aren’t found in all segments of society. But what makes us look so different from the Germans for people like you? While you may be partly right in that the Germans are less overt in their racism I think the main reason is not that. I think the main reason is that until very recently we were a very insular society and when this changed, many people were shocked. (Change, even if it’s for the better always causes an amount of stress, especially when it’s quick).

In the past 15 years many things happened that changed this country from a dot in the Mediterranean where most were blissful of their ignorance to a more cosmopolitan and secular society.

In these 15 years, we joined the EU, while more ideas as well as people flooded in thanks to the Internet, cheaper and faster communications and travel, student exchanges, so on and so forth. Coupled with an increasing number of Maltese who emigrated, looking for better opportunities abroad.

And………

15 years ago you would barely see a black guy walk the streets of Valletta except for the occasional tourist or student!

This changed for the reasons mentioned above, but even more so due to the fact that we started having the first black African refugees.

Keeping in mind that our politicians only think up to the following election, the PN government backe then tried to defuse the shock this would have on the Maltese but putting the refugees in detention (which was indefinite back then which changed only due to a court sentence). It worked in the short run, in the same way alcohol helps you deal with difficult emotions – until it gets out of control.

Government tried to sweeten this with kind talk and flaunting Christian values about helping these poor people while the Maltese public only saw them behind bars or handcuffed jumping the queue at hospital so as not to waste the time of the officers.

We also saw the emergence of a far right movement. (Once again this exists in Germany too and is lately embroiled in controversy after it’s alleged links with the NSU terrorist cell). But unlike in Germany, in Malta this was a novelty. And when the mainstream politicians saw a firebrand leader’s ideas on exterminating Jews, hanging traitors and deporting all non-whites from Europe gaining ground around a relatively small but extremely fanatical and loud crowd, they panicked even more. And insisted even more on detention while calling the refugees a burden!

A vicious cycle.

The good news? Unlike racism, insularity is less ingrained. It changes both in individuals and even more across generations. Today, racism is far from gone, but I already see a big difference than say, 8 years ago where some people didn’t even sit beside a black guy on the bus.

And I strongly believe this will continue to change.

In politics, the word liberal has various meanings and is used to tag various groups, some of whose beliefs are nearly opposite each other (for instance some “liberals” in terms of economic policy happen to be very “conservative” in terms of civil rights issues).

I won’t get into the various definitions of the term. For the purposes of this article, by liberal I refer on issue related to civil liberties such as divorce, same-sex marriage, decriminalizing drugs, euthanasia and prostitution – and why I support each one of them.

Yes, one of the reasons is that I’m a “liberal”, in that I believe that people should have every right to choose how they live, unless it involved harming others. That is a fundamental principle, but I go beyond that.

The other reason is that I believe that human suffering should be reduced as much as possible. I believe that by being conservative or illiberal the law is creating unnecessary hardships on people whose actions are either completely harmless or at most, only harmful to themselves.

Decriminalizing drug use: Some people are able to use drugs (especially the soft ones) only for recreational purposes. They may or may not be harming themselves (this mostly depends on the kind of drug, the quantity used and how frequently it is used). These people are also breaking the law, they are criminals. Why? Why should a person be arrested, prosecuted and possibly imprisoned when he didn’t harm anyone else other than himself? Isn’t this an unnecessary cruelty?

Some, unfortunately become drug addicts. A few of these finance their addiction through a regular legal job or just happen to be rich. Others, especially (but not exclusively) women finance their addiction through prostitution which though not illegal in itself is still very likely to send you on the wrong side of the law (read below). Others resort to the crime of theft or drug dealing. Except for the latter, who are drug addicts harming? Why should these people be punished further for their own illness (I strongly believe drug addiction is an illness, I plan to dwell on this in another post) Do you imagine a cigarette smoker prosecuted for smoking and being addicted to tobacco? Why should a heroin addict (unless he commits crimes with victims) be treated any differently? Once again – unnecessary hardship, cruelty.

Prostitution: The simple act of having sex for money is not illegal. They couldn’t make that illegal, such a law would be completely unenforceable. However anything else from loitering to organized prostitution is. In other words a prostitute can – and does – get arrested from lingering in a dark alley with not many clothes on and cannot regularize her job. Which, I should believe should be a job like any other. She couldn’t have the legal protection entitled to other workers resulting in being many times the victim of abuse from either her employers and her clients.

Why? Just because someone decided it’s not immoral to sell shoes or pastizzi but lending your body is. And since they couldn’t make that illegal they made practically everything else that surrounds it. To make it hard, deliberately inducing unnecessary hardship and cruelty.

Same sex marriage: Once again who are the victims of married homosexuals? (That it can affect a happy heterosexual marriage is absurdly beyond imagination). Why is society giving a message to these people that they should be treated as second class citizens and that they should be satisfied with some half baked “civil union” law that gives them some rights but not as much as heterosexual couples? Why the unnecessary cruelty?

Euthanasia and suicide: Working in a home for the elderly I’v seen people in unbelievable pain that no amount of morphine can control or extremely sad situations such as losing all your loved ones, your privacy, your eyesight and both legs who still want to live. People who for various reasons – religion being the most common – believe that still, life is there to be lived until natural death. This is what they wish and this is what they’ll do. So far so fine.

However I’ve also seen people who think different. People who want to die. Including a person who literally pleaded with me to give him something that can make it all end. Yet, in our society, because people with a superior morality decided that “life utill natural death” should not only be a value but also a law, any kind of euthanasia and assisted suicide is strictly prohibited. You have to suffer until the end because we said so. Unnecessary hardship, cruelty. Why?

Is it too “liberal” to believe in a society where reducing unnecessary human suffering is also a fundamental value? Where people are only punished if they harm others, and not get whipped further because they have harmed themselves, or offended the strict moral code of some holier than though?

In the aftermath of the riots by Muslim extremists following the publishing of the “Innocence of Muslims” video on Youtube, one could see mixed reactions, on online networks and discussions.

While in Malta everyone condemned the violence, opinions still varied. On one side some implied the extremists’ responsibility was somewhat diminished because the video really was offensive and shouldn’t have been published. This was not only the reaction of the most vocal Imam in Malta but also that of non-Muslims who somewhat sympathized with these extremists because they would have opposed a publication that insulted their own beliefs. On the other side, some took the opportunity to blame Muslims in general and expected they should collectively be held responsible for the savage reaction of a tiny minority. A third view, held mostly by conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis blamed Israel, (though what they really meant was Jews – once again, collective responsibility) for deliberately provoking the Muslims for their own ends.

I find all these views worrying. I believe that everyone is responsible for his own actions and only his own actions. In other words, the savages who stormed the embassies have only themselves to blame. No one forced them to do it as much as a girl wearing a mini-skirt isn’t forcing anyone to rape her. His choice, his responsibility. At the same time, the responsibility should be held only by the extremists themselves, not all Muslims.

What I noticed during all this saga is that there are mainly three sides who are trying to take advantage of the situation. All of them extremists and happen to be much more similar to their opposing sides than they would like to admit. These are:

1) The Zionists, who are most powerful in the US and Israel
2) The Muslim extremists whose stronghold is the Arab countries
3) The far right whose power, albeit limited, is on the increase in Europe

All side use “the other” as an excuse for their own extremism. The Muslim extremists use Palestine as an excuse to hate Jews. The Zionists use Muslim extremists as an excuse to hate all Muslims and justify invading Iran. The far right on the other hand, usually forms temporary alliances with one side or the other, depending on what their pet hate is (for instance while Malta’s Norman Lowell frequently praises president Ahmadinejad of Iran for denying the Holocaust, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands calls Israel “a beacon of light in an area of darkness and tyranny”).

If you exclude these three groups, there are the rest of us. Decent people who may disagree on where of freedom of speech should be limited, but are not motivated by hatred for one side or another.

The problem is that the three categories are trying to polarize people to their side by spreading hatred and fear of “the other”. This is extremely dangerous especially at a time where nearly all the world is suffering economic turmoil. Also at a time when a war between Iran and Israel is looming, a war that as Ahmadinejad himself is already threatening, may trigger World War III.

When it comes to these extremists, our role, (us being those who cherish freedom and democracy), should take only one stand, that is refusing to be dragged into any of the three sides.

And if, God forbid, a war between Israel and Iran breaks out, our role as peace loving people, is to pressure our governments to keep out of it. It will be crazy fanatics fighting crazy fanatics, and irrespective of whoever wins, the whole world loses.

Before I start writing this I want to make it amply clear that I neither know the officers who allegedly killed Mamadi Kamara not knew Mr Kamara himself. The only information on the killing I’ve got is what I read on the media and the content of this blog is about the reaction to the killing and not the killing itself. I believe that everyone is innocent until proved guilty and what’s written here has nothing to do with the guilt or otherwise of the accused.

It is a natural thing that when someone enters in police/army custody alive and gets out dead, there is a sense of shock in the community. Except for people with some particular partisan agenda, most of the population is mainly interested in one thing: The Truth.

I must admit that what shocked me most in the killing of Mr Kamara is not the fact that he was killed (voluntarily or not). Sure, that is shocking in itself, but considering Malta’s irrational long-term mandatory detention policy, Detention Service was just an accident waiting to happen.

What really shocked me was the reaction on the online media by certain sectors who have no interest in knowing what really happened and want to show “Solidarity with the AFM” on the case.

Solidarity on what exactly? Murder?

Yes, there are people amongst us who are not interested in knowing the truth but absolve the alleged murderers on the basis that what they did, whatever the circumstances, was justified. Some started repeating the usual urban legends such as “the immigrants spit on the officers….”, “the officers have a tough job….” so on and so forth. Others, though they sugar coated their words were practically saying “What’s the big deal? There are so many blacks, one black less”.

Who are these people?

Most of them are neo-Nazis loyal to Norman Lowell and active members of Imperium Evropa. I use the term neo-Nazi here not for the dramatic effect of the word but because this is not the typical far right party like those of Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders but pure undiluted Nazism. Holocaust denial, hatred for Jews (rodents, grieden tad-drenagg), biological racism, mass deportations and the execution of traitors. You name it, you got it. (Which makes me wonder what they really deny about the Holocaust considering that all the elements are there, except maybe, for the gas chambers)
They are the lunatic fringe, no? So why are you worried?

I don’t find the fact that they exist worrying. Every country, society, race or religion has its fair share of freaks.

What I do find worrying is the fact that they’re crawling out of the website where they post anonymously (www.vivamalta.org – where they repeatedly stated I should be arrested and hanged for stating my opinion) and filter into more mainstream media. Sure, their comments are many times sugarcoated and start with something like “Everyone should have the right to life, but….”

What is really worrying is the fact that some people in the mainstream are starting to think they have a point.

And yes, this is extremely shocking. Some, because of their anti-immigrant sentiment, naively think this is no big deal. A man is killed in custody, why investigate?

Yes, unless this is taken seriously this will snowball and has the potential of escalating to horrors that those who think the Nazis have a point, can’t even start to imagine.

Killing someone with impunity doesn’t only go against his human rights. It goes against the rule of law and the basic fundamentals of democracy.

This is not a football game (mal-Inglizi jew mat-Taljani). This is a question of individual responsibility. If these people are found guilty it doesn’t mean our officers are evil or racist. It means that there are 3 rotten apples amongst them and that the 3 rotten apples must be held accountable for their actions.

Both Mohamed Bouazizi and Anders Breivik did not like the society they were living in and wanted to change it. The similarities between the two men stop there. otherwise they are each other’s exact opposite.

Suffering chronic unemployment the young Tunisian tried to make a living as a street vendor. This wasn’t easy either, due to the regular harassment from the much hated Tunisian police for failing to pay bribes. One day he had enough. After being slapped in the face by a police officer and having his scales confiscated, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. His act was a catalyst for the Arab Spring.

What Anders Brevik didn’t like in his society was neither chronic unemployment nor harassment by the police but Middle Eastern looking people walking down the street. He despised the Labour Party for being “culturally Marxist” as well as his own parents for supporting it. On the 22nd July of 2011 Breivik shocked the whole of Europe when he killed 77 Labour supporters and injuring 151 by a car-bomb in a government building and a shoot out at Utoya island at a Labour Party camp.

Unlike Mohamed Bouazizi whose desperate act was triggered by the savagery of the Ben Ali regime, Anders Breivik enjoyed every right granted in a democracy. In fact, one reason why his acts of terror were so shocking is due to the fact that they took place in Norway, the country voted as most democratic in the world for consecutive years. Unlike Bouazizi, Breivik could have worked to change society by supporting a political party, or even form his own if none of the available parties supported his ideology.

Yet, the most striking difference between these two men is the result of their actions. Bouazizi probably knew his actions would have some kind of political impact, but I’m more than sure that he wouldn’t have predicted the whole of North Africa rising up against it’s tyrants following his self-immolation. On the other hand, Breivik’s utter failure resulted in a more united Norway instead of the one based on the apartheid and segregation he dreamt of.

My concern is that Europe has thousands of Breiviks. People who not only hate other human beings on the basis of race, culture or religion but also the very foundations of democracy.

The same democratic foundations that Mohemed Bouazizi and millions of North Africans are craving and spilling their own blood for.

When Poland was under the Soviets, Trade Unionist Lech Walesa used to greet his fellow Solidarity members with rosary beads in his hands. It wasn’t simply a religious act. It was an act of rebellion. The Soviets had taken all freedoms from the people of this vastly Catholic country including freedom of worship. The Poles were up in arms and the Catholic church was by their side. Rightly so.

Freedom of worship is a fundamental human right and a society that tramples upon it can never claim it’s a democracy.

Unlike the “forced atheism” of the Soviets, Malta is today witnessing a wave of secularism. Believers and non-believers are coming to the rational agreement that freedom of worship should be accompanied by the freedom not to worship. That, within the remit of the law, everyone is free to practice his religion but not to impose it on others.

This change was particularly marked by the divorce referendum, where 53% of the voters, a substantial amount of whom must be Catholics, agreed that if a marriage is over, one should call a spade a spade and declare it over. Whether the former spouse decides to have a new relationship and even get married again or not, is up to him. If he considers that a sin because his Catholic beliefs, he has every right to remain single.

Like always, this created a backlash from fundamentalist Catholics who consider imposing their beliefs a human right. They are even uniting on Facebook in a group they call “The Catholic Vote”. Discussing the usual issues: Divorce, same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, IVF and occasionally even drug legalization. Needless to say, compassion, forgiveness or, horror of horrors, turning the other cheek don’t feature anywhere in the discussions.

I won’t enter the merits of the issues but rather the tactics used to achieve their goals. One of them is lumping all issues together and threatening that if say, a legislation regulating same-sex relations is passed this will pave way for the much more frowned upon abortion. When truth is that there is absolutely nothing in common with these issues except for the fact that the Catholic church opposes them both.

Another tactic is implying that everyone who disagrees with them is a sleazy hedonist, who wants to cheat on his wife and most probably takes drugs!

Then there is the ultimate tactic: Playing the victims. The terms “harassing Christians” and “Christianophobia” are regularly used. Yes, for these fundamentalists, daring to disagree with them is considered as harassment, even hatred.

There will be no mincing of words on this. Unlike Lech Valesa, you don’t have a case. No one is going to take away your religion. Stop playing the victim, grow up and get over it.

Christianophobia may be a reality in Nigeria and Egypt where attending mass might get you bombed but not in Catholic majority Malta. The “secularists” and “humanists” you hate so much, would be the first to defend you if someone tries to forcibly take religion from you.

But it’s not the case. And you know it.

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